KILLING SPREE AS SOLDIERS INVADE
It is not possible to ascertain
the exact number of those killed by soldiers in Bayelsa during the weekend, but
reports reaching us indicate that the number of the dead in communities in the
area, as at Sunday are well over 100.
With the threats of a state of
emergency in Bayelsa still hanging, over 5, 000 soldiers were moved into the
Niger Delta state last week ostensibly to arrest some elements suspected to be
responsible for the alleged murder of about 12 policemen in Odi. From the
evening of Friday, soldiers commenced the indiscriminate shelling of Odi and
nearby communities from locations near Kaiama and Mbiama. Several people in the
communities were killed during the process.
Residents of communities in
the area have started fleeing the area. Some of the communities affected include
Kaiama, Odi, Kalama, Okordia, Zarama, Sampou, Olobiri, Trofani, and
Meanwhile, soldiers continue to harass travelers along the
East-West road linking States in the Niger Delta.
and individuals across the country have criticized plans to militarize the Niger
Delta, arguing that militarizing, like in Ogoniland, will result in mass
killings and abuse of human rights. Peoples of the area and other Nigerian
groups recommend that appropriate political measures should be adopted by the
government to address the crisis in the Niger Delta, which is a result of years
of neglect of the peoples and abuse of their natural environment by the Nigerian
State and transnational oil companies. Top on the list is the call for a
Sovereign National Conference to discuss issues of restructuring of the Nigerian
state into a federation that grants communities and constituent nationalities
some level of autonomy, including the right to ownership and control of land.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 1999
BEFORE THE BLACKOUT: THE SLIDE
TOWARDS ANOTHER CIVIL WAR IN NIGERIA
Less than four days before
the expiration of the deadline of his threat to impose a State of Emergency on
Bayelsa State, President Obasanjo in his typical neo-fascist fashion has ordered
the members of the discredited Nigerian military to invade Bayelsa State. It is
sad to note that this action has long been anticipated; only the timing was
uncertain. Under the ruse of apprehending criminal elements, the President has
effectively declared a civil war in Nigeria. Let no one be deceived, the action
of the presidency is geared towards silencing the strident agitation for
self-determination in the Niger Delta. The incident that the federal government
is using to justify its military action against the impoverished people of
Bayelsa State is no different from other instances of civil disorder and
criminality that has plagued Nigeria since the inception of the fourth republic.
But why military action against Bayelsa State? The answer is plain and simple:
crush the strident call for self-determination in the Niger Delta by maiming and
brutalizing the people of Bayelsa. If the hotbed of the agitation can be
subdued, then the Niger-Delta will be controlled. It is in this light that the
world must view the current military brutalization of Bayelsa State.
action only highlights the dictatorial tendency of the Obasanjo administration.
Rather than engage the people of the Niger Delta in genuine dialogue, the
President has consistently acted condescendingly and ill advisedly when dealing
with the critical issues of the region. In its typical fashion, the government
keeps trumpeting the Niger Delta Development Commission bill in the National
Assembly as a sign of its desire to address the problem of the area. It must be
noted that this bill has been widely condemned in the region for its
inconsistencies and lack of focus. Over and above the need for development is
the question of who controls the resources in ones domain. The relationship
between the Niger Delta region and the Federal government has long being that of
a classic case of COLONIALISM - exploit the resources of the region as
massively, and quickly as possible while brutally subjugating the people. The
present action only shows how determined the Obasanjo administration is in
perpetuating the status quo. What we are bearing witness to is the desperation
and anxiety of the Nigerian Colonialists. Having been nakedly exposed to the
world in all her filthy shame, they must crush the voice of a defenseless
As we have warned in the past, the immediate destiny of Nigeria
as a unified entity is intricately tied to the peaceful resolution of the
Niger-Delta question. Nowhere in the history of the human kind has military
might silenced the quest for justice by a people moreso a vocal and determined
people. The Niger Delta is no different. The Obasanjo administration cannot stop
the inexorable course of history. Unfortunately, his precipitous action makes
this journey unavoidably bloody. But, it is never too late to beat a retreat. We
call on the international community to prevail on the Nigerian government to
STOP the military brutalization of the people of Bayelsa State. The solution of
the Niger-Delta Question can only be found at the negotiating
Francis Ebi Porbeni
Paul Ekadi Writes
Tuesday, November 23, 1999
SITUATION REPORT ON INVASION OF BAYELSA BY
GENERAL OBASANJO LED FED. GOVT. OF NIGERIA
1. On 19
November 1999 the Federal Government of Nigeria declared a full-scale war
against the Ijaw ethnic tribe on the orders of General Olusegun Obasanjo. A
combat battalion invaded Odi - a town that lies on the eastern verge of the
upper part of the Nun River. The unprovoked attack was aimed at arresting Ijaw
youths who demonstrated against the Yorubas who massacred Ijaws in
2. A full combat battalion was used to invade Odi
in Bayelsa State. Details are as follows:
a) 22 five ton vehicles loaded with
about 1,500 troops
b) 4 armored personnel carriers i.e. APCs mounted with
c) 3 eighty-one millimeter mortar guns have been used in bombing
Odi from 2:00pm to 6:00pm Nov. 20 1999
d) 2 pieces of 105 mm Howitzer
Artillery guns were also used on November 20, 1999 in bombing Odi.
e) 2 naval
patrol sea crafts mounted with machine guns
f) Conventionally equipped
machine guns of a combat battalion
3. The operational
combat force of the Federal Government of Nigeria has been positioned as
a) Blocking the only road leading to the Bayelsa State capital
(Yenagoa) and terrorizing innocent civilians.
b) Heavily armed roadblocks
have been mounted at Patani on the road linking Lagos, Warri and Port Harcourt
with the Nigerian army terrorizing innocent travelers and civilians along the
c) The main fighting troops are concentrated at Kaiama and the Kaiama
and Odi junction.
d) One naval patrol craft is positioned in Patani and
another is positioned in Kaiama.
e) The APCs and the 81 mm mortar guns are
positioned on Okoso Bridge in Sampou East - West
4. The likely intention of the Federal Government
of Obasanjo is to create a military build up in Bayelsa State and prepare
invasion of Odi and other Communities for the following agenda amongst
a) To whip up sentiments in the International community and the
national assembly and declare a state of emergency in Bayelsa State by all
b) Suspend the governor of Bayelsa State. To this end, the invading
army has cordoned of the whole state.
c) To destroy the Niger Delta struggle
using this invasion as a diversionary measure.
d) Obasanjo to continue the
agenda of unprovoked aggression against the Ijaws as a Yoruba man who is the
President with enormous powers.
e) It is likely that the Nigerian Navy is
being used to block the Coastal waterways to silence the Niger Delta
5. This situation covers November 19 - 21
1999. The next action of Obasanjo and his invading force on the Ijaws remains to
Nigeria: Fears of human rights
violations as troops pour into Niger Delta
AI INDEX: AFR 44/02/99
23 November 1999
fears that a military operation in the Niger Delta to seek out and arrest armed
youths who have killed 12 police officers in recent weeks has resulted in the
killing of innocent civilians and the burning of villages, Amnesty International
"Instead of quelling the escalating unrest in the region,
the Nigerian government may have opened the door to further human rights
violations," the human rights organization said.
Residents fleeing the
area around the town of Odi in Bayelsa State have reported that soldiers have
killed dozens of people, including women and children. These reports cannot be
confirmed because journalists and others have not been allowed into the area,
and have been prevented from talking to wounded people, including soldiers,
receiving treatment in hospital in Port Harcourt.
said 43 people had been killed. The military have said that the figure is
exaggerated but have provided no information on the number of casualties.
Soldiers are also reported to have been killed. Before the military went in,
local people fled the area in fear of military reprisals against their
community. The authorities warned community leaders and medical personnel that
they might be arrested for harbouring criminals.
International is concerned that the military may be repeating a pattern of
retribution against civilians in the Niger Delta who have not contributed to the
"If the military operate beyond the law, then far from
combating the growing lawlessness in the Niger Delta, they will inflame the
situation," Amnesty International said.
Soldiers deployed in the Niger
Delta have on previous occasions attacked defenceless civilians and ransacked
their homes, in reprisal for the actions of armed groups and the killing of
police and soldiers.
While recognizing the government's responsibilities
to stop the killing of police and military personnel and to bring the
perpetrators to justice, the organization urges the government to ensure that
the military does not use excessive force and that all those arrested are
accorded their fundamental rights.
In January and September this year,
the armed forces are reported to have used excessive and lethal force against
youths in the same part of Bayelsa State. The youths were protesting against the
presence of security forces in the region and agitating for a halt to oil
production. The armed forces were also reported to have carried out punishment
raids and reprisal killings in their communities.
Wariebi Ajoko, a
14-year-old boy, was among the more than 20 youths who were reportedly shot dead
in January. The soldiers took the boy's body away and it was not returned to the
family. His father was among the community elders detained and tortured by the
security forces, and forced to drink their own urine after being held for days
in the open without food and water.
Killings by the security forces under
the military governments in power until May 1999 were not investigated. Although
the new civilian government ordered an internal army inquiry into the September
killings in Bayelsa State, no information had been made available about the
nature of the investigation, its initial findings -- not even about the number
or identity of those killed -- nor when the government would make public its
findings and recommendations.
"Failure to make public the results of
internal investigations and to bring to justice those responsible for previous
unlawful killings and excessive use of force, will only continue to encourage a
climate of impunity within the security forces," the organization
On 20 November, the government sent truckloads of
troops into the Niger Delta in response to the kidnapping and killing of 12
police officers by armed youths belonging to the Ijaw ethnic group in Bayelsa
state. Prior to these killings, a three-day clash from 30 October between armed
groups from the Yoruba and Ijaw ethnic groups in Lagos left at least 12 dead,
including four police officers.
Nigeria returned to civilian government
in May, after 15 years of military rule in which the poverty of the inhabitants
of the oil-rich Niger Delta increasingly became a cause of popular protest.
Ethnic groups in the Niger Delta, of which the Ijaw are the largest, maintain
that they have not been adequately compensated for environmental damage to their
fishing and farming livelihoods or granted a fair share of oil
Since 1997, scores have died in clashes between ethnic groups
over land and oil rights. Since 1998 the seizure of oil installations and the
abduction of oil workers -- at least six of whom are believed to have been
killed -- has seriously disrupted oil production, the mainstay of Nigeria's
For more information please call Amnesty International's press
London, UK, on
+44 171 413 5566 or visit our website at
PLANNED ATTACK ON IJAWS IN LAGOS BY THE OPC
AN OPEN LETTER
TO CHIEF OLUSEGUN OBASANJO -
PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF
Also for the kind attention of:
The Vice President of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria
The National Security Adviser
General of Police
The Lagos State Governor
The Bayelsa State
The Rivers State Governor
The Delta State Governor
State Commissioner of Police
We wish to call your
attention to another planned attack on peace loving Ijaws resident in Lagos, by
the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC); the militant wing of the Pan Yoruba
We have been reliably informed that OPC members
are planning to carry out an attack on Ijaws resident or doing business in the
Lagos environs - along the Lekki Expressway, starting from Maroko to Epe. There
is information also, that Makoko Waterside in Sabo and Okokomaiko, with high
concentration of Ijaws, will be attacked within the next one to two
Pursuant to the implementation of the afore-said plans, a town
crier went round Badore Village at the Ajah area on Saturday , 13th November,
1999, announcing to the people that non-indigenes who remain outdoors at night
are doing so at their own risk. It was later to become clear that the
announcement on non-indigenes was referring to Ijaws. Only a few days before
that, on 9th November, 1999, a town crier went round Isoko Village, along the
Lekki Expressway, telling the villagers that anyone who is playing host to or
hiding Ijaws in their houses are doing so at their own risk.
Ajegunle crisis, OPC members have been holding weekly meetings (on Sundays) at
Ajegunle, Badagary, Mushin, Ajangbadi, Ikorodu, and Oke-Ira Village in the Ajah
area. These weekly meetings have now translated into daily nocturnal meetings.
The nightly meetings are characterised by rituals, singing and dancing until the
early hours of the morning, reminiscent of OPC's usual preparations for
launching violent attacks.
We believe that these planned attacks will
only jeopardise current efforts at ensuring peace between Ijaw youths and the
OPC/Ilaje since after the meeting of representatives of these groups with the
Governor of Lagos State. As Ijaw Elders, we had gone to great lengths to prevail
on our youths not to carry our retaliatory attacks on Yorubas in Warri, Port
Harcourt, Bonny and Yenagoa. In spite of all the false claims of killings of
Yorubas and similar negative media campaigns by the OPC leaders, our youths have
thus far heeded our advice not to retaliate. Meanwhile, OPC members have
continued to eject Ijaws living within Ajegunle area; as they have also been
going round other parts of Lagos with large concentration of Ijaws; asking
Landlords to give their Ijaw tenants quit notices.
This is a call on the
Federal Government to urgently address the security problems of Ijaws in Lagos
State as well as in the entire south West Region. We recall the very slow
response and non-challant attitude of both the Police and the Lagos State
Government during the last crisis at Ajegunle. It is very difficult to
understand why the Police in Lagos State have not up till the present moment,
been able to check the activities of OPC youths who make no effort to conceal
their activities, as they even hold open meetings within the city with their
banners boldly displayed. Since after the Ajegunle crisis, the police have
raided meetings of Ijaw youths in the Festac Town area on 2nd November, 1999,
and at Ajangbadi, killing eight (8) Ijaw Youths and wounding over fifteen (15).
The Ajangbadi incident occurred within the last one week and has so far not been
covered by the news media; obviously controlled by the South West.
we condemn the criminal killings of police men at Odi in Bayelsa State, we also
strongly condemn the way and manner the Police have been going about arresting
and killing innocent Ijaws in Lagos and within the Niger Delta.
Mr. President for the anticipated speedy reaction to this letter, to SAVE OUR
CHIEF AKENI F. BENAEBI
IJAW ELDERS FORUM, LAGOS
c/o P.O. Box 2046, GPO, Marina Lagos
COUNCIL OF IJAW ASSOCIATIONS
2811 McKee Road, #133F
San Jose, CA
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, November 23,
Ijaw National Alliance
The statement by Nigeria's Federal
Government that the deployment of forces at Bayelsa State was at the instance of
Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha does not add up. The inevitable consequences of
such a military siege, as confirmed in the news media, is massive death and
destruction, suffered mostly by the innocent (the elderly, women and children)
who constitute a majority. Governor Alamieyeseigha is very much aware that
besides the innocent casualties that beget such an attack, sending troops to the
area has the potential to further inflame the situation. Accordingly, he vowed
not to deploy soldiers in the area. When this same governor, who only few days
ago, made such an opportune decision is now credited with another adversely
contradictory declaration, two conclusions are inevitable: (1) The Federal
Government is not forthright with the truth or (2) Governor Alamieyeseigha is a
victim of Federal Government coercion.
President Obasanjo had made up his
mind to invade Bayelsa State, after the reported killings of law enforcement
officers at Odi. His letter to the Bayelsa State Governor containing a 14-day
ultimatum clearly indicated the "muscle" President Obasanjo threatened to flex
with Governor Alamieyeseigha. Perhaps, Obasanjo has realized in hindsight, that
he would have been more diplomatic in coercing Governor Alamieyeseigha. And in
an apparently belated "diplomatic" move, President Obasanjo has succeeded in
jawboning Governor Alamieyeseigha to take repsonsibility for the troops who are
now let loose to kill, loot and destroy at Bayelsa State. This ploy is a
deliberate attempt by Obasanjo to ferment intra-Ijaw disunity and dissension.
Most Ijaws, however, realize that Obasanjo is solely responsible for the
destruction of life and property going on in Bayelsa State.
Obasanjo should realize that we are keenly watching as he plays politics with
people's lives. With the characteristic ill-advised measures that have caused
the current and enduring impasse, Obasanjo's every-step is an indication of his
determination to maintain the status quo engendered by his civilian and
millitary predecessors. Like his predecessors, Obasanjo fails to realize that he
can only win the combat without winning the war. The road to winning the "war"
is a SINCERE demonstration to redress the decades of socio-economic injustices
imposed on the Ijaw and people of the Niger Delta. Again, we are watching; the
whole world is watching!
Joseph Miebi Ebiware, President.
Oruowei Sikpi, Vice President
Dawari Longjohn, General Secretary
Lawson-jack, Public Relations Officer.
1 AGGREY ROAD, PORT HARCOURT, NIGER DELTA,
Tuesday, November 23, 1999
The Secretary General
New York, USA
Dear Secretary General,
STOP THE GENOCIDE
AGAINST THE IJAWS
As we write this letter, more
defenseless Ijaws are being killed by men of the Armed Forces of the Nigerian
State deployed to Bayelsa State by the central government. As at yesterday
(Monday, November 22, 1999) over 200 civilians, including women and children,
had been killed. Odi community has been burnt, in some cases, with people
trapped inside their homes. This has left members of the community homeless.
More casualties are expected as soldiers continue the attack on Odi and
surrounding villages such as Kalama, Kaiama, Sampou, Agbere, Odoni, Sagbama,
Patani etc. We fear that the attack by soldiers will spread to other Ijaw
communities. This is the outcome of a well though out plan by the Nigerian
Government in collaboration with transnational corporations.
from the onset, is to silence the Ijaws and truncate their peaceful campaign for
self-determination and environmental protection. That explains the unwarranted
attacks on Ijaws communities such as Ikebiri, Okinyan, Opia, Kaiama, Ovom,
Ikeremor Zion, Obama etc. The assault on Ijaws became more desperate with the
proclamation of the Kaiama Declaration on December 11, 1999, in with the Ijaw
demanded for self-determination within the Nigerian State.
The proclamation of the Kaiama Declaration was not a declaration
of war. We only insisted on our rights to self determination and resources
control. The Ijaw nation called for dialogue between the constituent
nationalities within the Nigerian State through a Sovereign National Conference.
The then military junta of General Abdusalami Abubarkar ignored that call. We
had hoped that the civilian regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo will make a
difference, but our hopes were dashed. On June 11, 1999 when we had the chance
of talking to President Obasanjo in Port Harcourt, we once again reiterated our
disposition towards dialogue. In our presentation to President Obasanjo, we
stated inter alia "we are committed in this regard to use the primary processes
of NEGIOTIATION AND DIALOGUE. We see your coming as part of that process of
reaching out as we march towards dialogue and negotiation. It is for this reason
that we agreed to come and meet with you so that the process of
with the Ijaw people can begin. Delay is dangerous." Our request
was turned down, and our position rejected by the President. Till this moment,
no honest attempt has been made to reach out to the Ijaw people for dialogue.
More than four (4) months have since gone by. Instead plans are being perfected
to annihilate the Ijaws.
EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLINGS AND CONTINUOUS
Since the Ijaw Youths met at Kaiama to peacefully pursue
self-determination and resource control, the response by the Federal Government
and the oil companies has been the visitation of genocide on our people. Several
cases abound. We will mention a few:
- December 29, 1998: About 1,500
soldiers arrived Yenagoa and neighboring communities.
- December 30,
1998: Ijaw Youths on a peaceful procession were mowed down in broad daylight in
front of the Government House in Yenagoa. Eleven deaths were recorded while
several hundreds were injured.
- December 31, 1998: More truckloads of
soldiers arrive and another four Youths were killed including several
- January 1, 1999: All surrounding communities to Yenagoa such
as Ovu, Yenegwe, Amarata, Ekeki, Opolo, Agudama and spreading to Mbiama junction
had been occupied by soldiers that raped women/children, maimed and killed
several Ijaw people.
- January 2, 1999: Soldiers in three truckloads
invaded Kaiama, ransacked it, looted and killed several persons including the
Chief of the community, Chief Sergeant Ofoniama.
- January 3, 1999:
soldiers in Chevron helicopters and sea trucks invaded Ikenyan and Opia
communities. The two communities were burnt down leaving several deaths and
- January 3, 1999: Kaiama is deserted. Odi, Sagbama, Patani,
Aven and Bomadi junction 'taken over' by soldiers. Molestation, harassment,
detention and killing of Ijaw youths continue unabated.
10,1999: About two hundred Ijaw persons had been killed. Several hundreds were
either maimed or injured. Women had been raped, while the soldiers of occupation
continued their activities, which included extortion of money from the
- January 11, 1999: Ijaw women on a peaceful demonstration in
Port Harcourt were teargases, beaten, stripped and detained by a combined team
of soldiers, mobile police etc.
- January 30, 1999: Six (6) Ijaw youths
were killed at Agip's Obama flow station. Several others were wounded, among
whom, two later died in hospital.
- February 14, 16, 1999: Soldiers
raided Okigbebe and ferebaghagbebe communities destroying several
- February 28, 1999: An Ijaw youths killed by men of the
operation flush at Port Harcourt.
- March 14, 1999: Combined team of
Mobile Policemen and Soldiers invaded Odi town killing one youths, injured five
persons and arrested 8 others.
- April 19, 1999: Military men of
Operation Hakuri invaded Ikebiri 1 and 2 at the behest of Agip oil company
(NACO) killing eight (8) youths and wounding several others.
- April 28,
1999(): Two (2) Ijaw youths shot dead by soldiers at Fish town. Several others
- May 17. 1999 (): soldiers escorting a Shell barge at
Okokodiagbene killed another two youths.
- July 27, 1999: soldiers on
patrol along the Benin River arrested Ten Ijaw persons. Their whereabouts is
- August 14, 1999: soldiers at Ogbe-Ijoh waterfront killed
Another Ijaw youths.
- September 9-13, 1999: About fifty (50) Ijaws,
including women and children were killed at Yenagoa by soldiers and mobile
policemen (see Newspaper reports in government owned Daily Times)
September 10,1999: Naval officers killed another Ijaw youth, John Simepriye at
- September 20, 1999: An expatriate staff of the Shell
operated Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas company joined Mobile Policemen to shoot
protesting Ijaws in Bonny Several persons were wounded.
- October 1999:
Soldiers located at Soku Gas Plant killed an Ijaw fisherman at Oluashiri/Soku
- October 12, 1999: Soldiers again shot and killed
another Ijaw man called Fefegha.
- November 6, 1999: Sunday Konyeta, a
councilor, was killed by soldiers at NPA, Warri.
- November 13,1999:
Another three (3) Ijaws were shot and killed by soldiers at Obama and
- November 19, 1999: Nine Ijaws youth killed by the police in
Port Harcourt the incidence mentioned above are only few of the recorded cases.
These are outside other extra-judicial killings taking place at various military
checkpoints at Mbiama, Kaiama, Odi, Sagbama, Warri etc.
Although on May
29, 1999, the military handed over power to the Civilians (Politicians), the
military did not withdraw to the barracks. They were posted to Ijaw areas of the
Niger Delta. At the moment, there are about 150 soldiers at Shell's Soku gas
plant; 800 soldiers at Yenagoa; 300 at Agip facilities in Brass; 700 at Bonny;
300 at Burutu; 2,000 at Warri; 200 at Mbiama; 2,000 at Kaiama and several others
at Ekermor, Sagbama etc. In all these areas, the military men continue to kill
Ijaw youths, harass and molest the local people, and embark on
SETTING THE STAGE.
The Ijaw Youth Council came across
an internal document of the Rivers State Police Command titled "Operation order
No. 13/99. Contingency plans to contain activities of Ijaw youths council (IYC)
and other interest groups" in which part of the plan to annihilate Ijaw youths
by the Military were outlined. The plan which became operational from August 27,
1999 had since ensured the detention of about 2,000 Ijaw youths in different
detention Cells. The Ijaw youths is labeled all sorts of names and rushed into
detention. Those arrested include military officers of the Ijaw ethnic
A new stage in the plan to annihilate the Ijaw was revealed
by the Chief of Army staff, Major General Victor Malu when he announced the
replacement of military officers of Niger Delta origin serving in military
formations in the Niger Delta. This we assert, was the prelude to the events
that are unfolding at Odi, Sampou, Kalama, Kaiama, Burutu etc
CONSPIRACY FOR ETHNIC CLEANSING
The Ijaw had been living peacefully with
her neighbors in the past. However, since the Kaiama Declaration was proclaimed
there have been attempts by the Nigerian State and transnational oil companies
to instigate ethnic conflicts in the Ijaw areas in the Niger Delta. Some
elements, working with the State and oil companies provoke clashes involving
Ijaw communities and other communities in the Niger Delta. Hence the
Itsekiri/Ijaw war, Ilaje/Arogbo war, Eleme/Okrika war, and the recent killing of
Ijaws in Lagos by the Yorubas/police. And the Binis of Edo are being engineered
to war with their immediate Ijaw neighbors. The stage has been set for the
Ilajes, Itsekiris, Yorubas, and Binis to launch attacks simultaneously on the
Ijaws from Wednesday 24/11/99. This attack is expected to be fully supplemented
by the declaration of a state of emergency by President Obasanjo. By this, both
Government troops and all Ijaws neighbors will be fighting against the Ijaws
with the sole aim of annihilating us.
MASSACRE IN ODI AND ENVIRONS.
We were all shocked by the news of the alleged killing of the policemen
at Odi. We tried our best to effect the release of the Police officers when it
was first though the all the officers were still alive. This incident was very
unfortunate and we condemn it, as such actions are not part of the Ijaw
struggle. But President Obasanjo has threatened a state of emergency on Bayelsa
State. Before this threat, several soldiers were posted to Bori Camp (Port
Harcourt), Elele Barracks (Close to Port Harcourt), Warri Barracks (Delta
State), NNS Akaso (Rivers state), NNS Okemini (Rivers State) in July 1999 for
special training on the Niger Delta. This is because the Central government had
concluded that the solution lies with a military option. Several deadly weapons
were also acquired and moved to these barracks.
Now the soldiers and the
weapons of mass destruction have been unleashed on the innocent at Odi and other
We appeal to you sir, to use your
office to call on the central government of Nigeria to stop the genocide against
the Ijaw. What the Ijaw will continue to demand is for is a pollution free
environment and community control of our land. We continue to call for the
restructuring of Nigeria into a federation that grants constituent ethnic
nationalities the right to self-determination. The central government should
take concrete actions to address these burning issues instead of sending
soldiers to kill our people.
Humanitarian disaster in Odi
as Soldiers Continue Occupation
soldiers continue the occupation of Odi and environs, there are fears that some
wounded residents of the area might still be trapped in forests, where they fled
to escape the shooting of soldiers. Soldiers occupying the area continue to
refuse journalists and charities access to the area. Humanitarian organisations,
such as the Doctors Without Borders, who have asked to enter the area with badly
needed medical supplies have had their requests turned down by the
The government of Bayelsa State has threatened to
criminalise any resident of neighboring communities that gives assistance to any
of the wounded. The government warned that such sympathisers would be arrested
Meanwhile, over 2000 residents of Odi and environs,
mostly women, children and the elderly, who were abducted in their communities
by soldiers are being denied access to relatives and medical supplies at the
Elele Army Barracks were they are being kept.
More residents of
communities around the Odi area continue to flee their communities as soldiers
prepare to expand the scope of their terror in search of "hoodlums". Hunger is
threatening the survival of many communities as the total blockade of the area
prevents residents from moving out to markets to sell farm produce and buy food
Concerned organisations, individuals and governments should
continue to appeal to the Nigerian government to withdraw soldiers from the
area. At the least soldiers should open the area to humanitarian organisations
to send in badly needed relief materials. More deaths of the innocent should be
November 25, 1999.
Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
Head of State
Federal Government of
Aso Rock, Abuja, Nigeria.
Your Gun Boat Diplomacy in Bayelsa State
Is Bound to Fail And Nigeria under Your Presidency is Heading for
I write as a concerned citizen from the Western
Niger Delta region of Nigeria to condemn the action taken by you and your
National Security Council in ordering another raid into the Niger Delta to
punish its people. To back up my condemnation of your action, I will offer
reasons why your action cannot be legitimately interpreted as a routine
governmental exercise of law and order and why the people of the Niger Delta are
justified in regarding your invasion as an act of conquest and
We know from reports filtering out of the area which
remains sealed off from the news media and relief workers that Odi has been
completely leveled. Many homes in Kaima, Mbiama and Patani and other neighboring
villages have been set on fire and over 200 innocent lives have been lost. The
current state of anarchy in the area is therefore a far cry from the promise you
made when you took office in May 29, 1998, and during your recent visit to the
United States, to improve the quality of the lives of the people of Niger Delta.
Your government, like the military dictatorships before it, have choosen to
exploit the resources of the Niger Delta people for the benefit of the powerful
ethnic groups in Nigeria. Your action of the last few days has reduced Bayelsa
State to Stone Age conditions and will certainly embolden the people to continue
the fight to keep away all those who are stealing their God-given wealth. The
patriotic youths whom you set out to arrest, are merely exercising their right
of self defense against invaders. They will be remembered as freedom fighters
and not the vandals you describe to the world. Many of us from area who felt
that the crisis in the Niger Delta might finally be solved under you have become
disillusioned and wonder why we reposed any confidence in you in the first
place. We are particularly incensed and appalled by the various statements
coming from your propaganda machine, with one saying, that the "police action"
was necessary to restore law and order in the area. What a great deception! The
reason you advanced to justify such a massive destruction of an already
depressed area, shows how little the Nigerian government cares for the welfare
of the citizens of the Niger Delta.
You Did Not Invade Bayelsa State to
Restore Law and Order.
In recent times, serious breakdown in law and
order has been widely reported in the cities of Lagos, Shagamu and Kano. The
number of policemen and security personnel lost in the line of duty, is far in
excess of twelve policemen allegedly killed by Ijaw youths in Bayelsa State. In
spite of the well reported loss of lives and destruction of property, no state
of emergency was ever declared and neither are we aware of any attempt by your
government to punish the people of Lagos, Shagamu or Kano for the action of a
few individuals. The Odua People's Congress (OPC), the Yoruba military wing and
radical elements in the North (including the apostles of Sharia law), continue
to operate freely and your government has so far made no meaningful effort to
contain their activities. Clearly, your reaction to the unfortunate death of
police officers in Bayelsa State is predicated by your avowed determination to
guarantee the flow of oil revenue that you need to run your government. The
invasion has little to do with concern for human lives. The free use of
excessive force, including the application of mortars, artillery and naval gun
power against unarmed and defenseless elders, women and children speaks volumes
about the true intent of your government.
Conquest and Colonization of
the Niger Delta People
Any one who read the ultimatum you gave to the Mr.
Diepreye Alamieyesiegha, Governor of Bayelsa State, cannot help but come away
with the feeling that we are a conquered people and that no one needs to respect
us and our elected officers. The poor man was summoned to Aso Rock, the seat of
the Nigerian Government and reprimanded for not keeping his people in line.
Nobody in your government offered him any help to solve the high unemployment
among the youth, the lack of medical facilities, water supply and facilities for
basic education to take home to his people. To add insult to an injury, your
Press Secretary, Dr. Doyin Okupe, of course speaking for you, told the world,
much to its bewilderment, that your troops were sent in at the invitation of the
Governor and that the troops are under his command! The same Governor was
quoted, only a few days earlier to have vowed not to allow federal troops into
his state. You more than any one else know that even the placing of federal
troops under a state Governor is unconstitutional. Apart from manipulating and
humiliating the Governor before his people and the world, you have sown the
seeds of discord within the Ijaw communities whose members will now see the
Governor and other elected officers of the state as traitors, elements working
with the enemies to defraud them. We are beginning to see the repetition of the
Ogoni tragedy in which Abacha's military government fomented crisis in the Ogoni
communities as an excuse to arrest, try and hang Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others
for crimes they never committed.
As a conquered people, we are not
represented in your government and ofcourse, we have no one to voice our
concerns, even though our part of Nigeria provides 90 percent of all government
revenue. If the National Security Council has a Niger Deltan on board, the
fateful decision to invade Bayelsa would never have been made. If the Special
Adviser on Petroleum Affairs has been from Niger Delta and not the one selected
from the Hausa/Fulani Oligarchy, the federal government would have been more
aggressive in containing the excesses of oil companies. You also know that your
Federal Executive Council has no one to argue for our side during any debate of
issues that affect our lives. We had two major fire disasters that consumed
thousands of innocent lives in the Urhobo communities of Idjerhe and Ekpakrame
within one year and your government, like the one before it has done nothing to
provide relief to those affected. If these tragedies had occurred in the
Northern and Western part of Nigeria, you would found an excuse to initiate a
massive program to rehabilitate the victims. Your government policy is to take
all our money, spend it only for the benefit of the major ethnic groups and
leave us the minority destitute, obviously because we are considered too weak to
fight. In deed, we are a conquered people, deprived of all rights as human
beings! Does it surprise anyone that while the killers of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola
are hunted down and tried in Lagos, Justice Mohammed Auta, one of those known
for carrying out the judicial execution of Ken Saro Wiwa, is still siting on the
bench in Abuja! Your government has the temerity even to refuse to release the
bodies of those ordered hanged by Justice Auta to the affected families for
OMPADEC, PTF, and Now NDC Form a Trail of Schemes to
Deceive and Defraud the People of the Niger Delta
With the assumed
conquest of the Niger Delta complete, it is now time for your government, like
the ones before it, to engage in schemes to deceive the world that the Niger
Delta is about to be developed. We are fully aware that the wealth derived from
the Niger Delta is being siphoned away by the federal government and never
returned to the people. The schemes, which merely offer development plans, are
cleverly made part of dry, half-hearted and seeming endless debates about
allocation of oil revenue. In 1992, Babaginda government initiated one such
plan: Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) "to address
the difficulties and the sufferings of those who live in the Oil Producing Areas
of Nigeria" Although the Federal government only allocated 3 percent to the
commission, it was mired in corruption and it cannot point any successful
project in the area. Then came the Petroleum Special Trust Fund (PTF) with the
mandate to use revenue from increases in the prices of petroleum products to
"identify key projects in all parts of Nigeria so as to bring about equitable
development to all our communities". The Fund, under the direction of a
Northern, General Buhari, built roads, hospitals and schools in the North and
disregarded the needs of the Niger Delta, the source of money that was used for
the various projects. Now we have your Niger Delta Commission (NDC) bill which
not only deny our people rights of ownership and but also make them pay for
damages to our ecosystem caused by years of reckless process of oil exploration.
As a conquered people, we are supposed to accept whatever you are willing to
offer and you felt justified in launching a punitive expedition against the
people of Niger Delta for daring to complain. I hope the next time you travel
outside Nigeria, you will let the world know that Bayelsa State of Nigeria
remains the one of the poorest places on earth with no light, no telephones,
water supply and other basic necessities of life even though it has been known
for the past 40 years for the highest overall production per capital of oil in
The Near-Absence of Condemnation of Your Action in Bayelsa State
from the Major Ethnic Groups in Nigeria Must Be Seen as an Encouragement to
Continue the Exploitation of Our People.
We are not surprised by the
absence of protest of your military siege from people outside the international
human rights communities and the Niger Delta people. The reason for this lack of
concern for the plight of our people is not far to fetch. Any one who cares to
go through the list of those in the decision-making positions at MOBIL will find
that it is filled mainly with YORUBAS. The IBOS similarly monopolize all the top
positions in SHELL. The YORUBAS and IBOS are also dominant in CHEVRON and other
oil companies that operate in the Niger Delta region. The minority people from
the oil-producing areas are hard to find anywhere in the workforce. The major
ethnic groups, clearly have interest in status quo and they must be happy with
your government for protecting their interest! These people assist the oil
companies in devising policies that exclude our people from employment and
contracts. It does not seem to matter that this pattern of employment is against
government policy that restricts 70 percent of all skilled labor and 100 percent
of all unskilled labor to the indigenes. In addition your government supervises
a scheme that ensures that the best and most lucrative contracts go foreigners
and others outside the oil-producing communities. In spite of the enormous
wealth people made or stolen from the Niger Delta, none is ever invested in the
area. The people are left alone to deal with abject poverty and environmental
problems caused by oil exploration. It seems that you do not feel that our
people, particularly the unemployed youth, have the right to be angry for the
lack of compensation for damages done and for the inequitable distribution of
benefits from the oil industry. As a conquered people, our youth deserve to be
punished ruthlessly, anytime they dare to express frustration in any form or
shape with a system that victimizes them. You must have been be elated when
members of the Federal House of Representatives who are from the North voted to
commend you for a "wonderful job" in Bayelsa and to blame the Niger Delta people
for all their problems.
As a Christian, you must be aware that nothing on
earth ever stays the same. I hope you will find time to reflect on your role in
causing untold miseries to our people. Your government has the option to stop
the killings and get out of the Niger Delta. May the Good Lord grant you the
wisdom to distinguish between evil and good, especially as it pertains to the
problems of the Niger Delta people.
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
President, Federal Government of
Aso Rock, Abuja, Nigeria.
FOUNDATION DENOUNCES PRESIDENT OBASANJO'S HANDLING OF THE NIGER DELTA
Rivers State Foundation USA Inc, a non profit organization of Rivers State
indigenes in the United States of America wants to express its disgust on
militarization of the economic crisis pervading the Niger Delta Region. We
further denounce the use of military and other security agents of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria to attempt to suppress what is obviously a peaceful demands
for economic relief.
We understand that your administration inherited
some of the crisis engulfing the region from your predecessors. However, your
shortsighted approach in tackling these genuine and well deserved calls for
economic salvation in the region has escalated the crisis. Since your
administration came into existence June 1, 1999, you have feigned your desire to
solve the problems in the region. The administration's inability to actualize
your well articulated objectives and desire for the region has placed the
indigenes' minds in suspense. The so-called economic development package you
proposed for the region has been deadlocked even before it reached the floor of
the National Assembly. The people of the Niger Delta Region are tired of the
empty promises of the past and present administrations; especially, without a
clear and distinct plan of action for immediate relief of the economic
deprivation and hardship.
Mr. President, instead of flooding the region
with the Federal troops who have unleashed uncontrollable damage to lives and
properties in the region, your administration should have initiated a practical
economic development agenda to provide basic amenities and infrastructures that
will also generate employment's for our people. These will pacify the people and
ease tension in the region. Mr. President, you were elected and given a mandate
to advance the yoke of democratic governance to the Nigerian people. However,
you have deliberately, and with military precision, mangled one of the basic and
underlying tenets of a "democratic government": the protection of lives and
property. Your administration has ignored the genuine desires of our people for
fairness and economic justice with reckless insensitivity, and now, like your
predecessors, you are now leading police officers in the destruction of lives
and properties you swore to protect.
Mr. President how soon have you
forgotten that the tyrannical abuse of government powers resulted in your
imprisonment and that of others, some of whom were killed in custody? We know
that the Almighty God did not spare your life so that you can eradicate a
generation of our people in order to procure oil for the multinational
corporations and your government. In recent months, we have witnessed the
killings in Bonny township, Rivers State, of unarmed indigenes exercising their
constitutional rights to civil protest. You glossed over the consequences of
such ugly dent on the democratic principles of our government, and rather
demanded the aggrieved people of Bonny to allow the multinational corporations
to continue the shipment of liquefied natural gas from the terminal.
the recent incidents in Choba village in Rivers State where your soldiers
invaded the defenseless community and committed murders and rapes while the
media and world community watched; you quickly exonerated them by stating that
those crimes were committed by the people of the Niger Delta Region. You did not
even allow for an investigation into the incident. At the same time, there have
been several recent riots by your people, the Yorubas in Lagos resulting in the
destruction of lives and properties including the killing of law enforcement
officers. Mr. President you did not whip up your military nor did you invoke the
Riot Act, and/or declare s State of Emergency in Lagos State. There is ongoing
crisis in Lagos between the Yorubas and Housas with the killing of innocent
souls including police officers, you are yet to order the invasion of Lagos
State and relieve Gov. Tinubu of the governance of that State. But you would not
hesitate to threaten the government of Bayelsa State with a state of emergency
if the Governor...........did not erase a half century of deprivation and
oppression with additional repressive actions.
Mr. President you did not
hesitate to send your military men to invade Odi Village with mortars and
armored personnel carriers, killing indiscriminately men, women, children, and
senior citizens, and destroying properties. The Rivers State Foundation does not
and will not condone violence and the killing of law enforcement officers for
any reason, any where, any time and by any body. By the same measure, the
Foundation does not and shall not tolerate and condone the use of the Nigerian
military and security agents to attend to the genuine desires and demands of our
people for economic justice. Mr. President, as umbrella organization
representing the general interest of Rivers State people including the Niger
Delta Region, these words of caution are issued barring all the biases and
vindictiveness of your actions. It is directed at the ugly and thoughtless
actions in our region.
The Foundation has carefully studied all the
information reaching it with all the facts associated with each incident and has
concluded that you have not attended with prudence and genuine concerns to the
degradation, deprivation and economic injustice that have been forced upon our
people by multinational corporations and Nigerian government for several
decades. You seem to lack a basic understanding of the problems of the Niger
Delta Region. Therefore it is The Rivers State Foundation position
Although police officers were killed in Odi Village, that it was
not clear that those officers were in fact killed by the indigenes of Odi. An
investigation into the murders were necessary to bring the actual killers to
book, and provide true justice to those killed.
That President Obasanjo
should order the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all military
personnel in Odi Village and the rest of Bayelsa to allow peace and stability to
return to the State. President Obasanjo must not, and should not threaten to
declare a state of emergency, and/or invoke the riot act directly or indirectly
through any of his representatives. The peaceful protests of the people of the
Niger Delta Region, unlike those of the Yorubas and Housas in other parts of the
country, are for well-deserved economic relief, not political appointments and
That President Obasabjo should immediately embark on
intensive economic development programs for the region as only plausible and
politically workable means to address the yawning of our people for economic
justice. Military invasion and the invocation of riot to address an economic
issue is a shortsighted and spiraling journey to guerillas warfare in the
That President Obasanjo should desist from seeking a military
solution to the problems of our people and issuing statements that are capable
of escalating tension in the Niger Delta Region. The President's statement
accusing the people of Niger Delta Region of murders and rapes in Choba Village,
Rivers State, was reckless and ill-advised. President Obasanjo must always
remember that all Nigerians are his constituents; not just the military, the
Yorubas and the Housas. Most importantly, President Obasanjo must always
remember that he is no longer a military Head of State but an elected president
of democratic government.
The Rivers State Foundation considers the
foregoing statements of position basic starting points of addressing the
concerns of our people. Furthermore, The Foundation wishes to place President
Obasanjo on notice that we view the crisis developing in Bayelsa State in terms
of the struggles of our people to extricate the region from genocide by the
Federal Government of the Republic of Nigeria and the multinational
corporations. The creation of Bayelsa State has not and shall not erode our
common and shared desire to improve the living standards of the people of Rivers
State in the Niger Delta Region.
Mr. President, we want to make it
categorically clear that we are watching with telescopic curiosity and interest,
the response of your administration to the genuine demands of the people of
Rivers and Bayelsa States, and the entire Niger Delta Region. We view with grave
concern, the half-baked do-not-address-the-issue military-mentality approach
your administration has attended the demands of our people. The Rivers State
Foundation and all our people in the Diaspora support and intend to continue its
support of the struggles of the people of the Niger Delta Region to liberate its
indigenes from this senseless and endless repression and economic injustice from
the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the multinational corporations. Enough is
Robert Sam Elleh
THE ODDS AGAINST
By Nnimmo Bassey
with much pains as General Obasanjo's Special assistant on Media and Publicity
attempted (last night on national television) to justify the reasons why the
Federal Might was so viciously unleashed on the Nigerian community of Odi in
peacetime and under a democratic "umbrella". He said among other things that the
soldiers were sent to Odi to dislodge persons he characterised as "merciless
We were told that "the instructions given to the troops
were clear, specific and unambiguous that is, dislodge perpetrators of violence,
restore law and order and apprehend suspected murderers." The sacking of Odi as
executed, in strategy and tactics is thus clearly as planned in Aso Rock. The
spokesman says that "those who criticised the deployment of troops to the
troubled area are either guilty of shameful ignorance or are simply playing to
I like to state right away that I am neither ignorant of
the fact that the deployment of troops to arrest or to dislodge criminals in
this manner from the midst of a human community is not only barbaric but an
unusual assault on human decency. And I am not playing to the gallery when I
hasten to accuse this government of playing to the gallery herself. The question
would be whose gallery?
It is clear that the murder of law enforcement
officers at Odi was detestable and those who committed the crime had to be
brought to book. The failure of our security network to handle the situation in
a civilised manner is a pointer to a deeper decay in the Nigerian system. It is
this glaring failure that led to the murder of the policemen and the killing of
some of the troops who went in after the crime.
The response of the
government in words and in action has been disturbingly dictatorial. If these
are not condemned now, tomorrow may be too late. Before we return to Odi, let us
comment on the shoot-at-sight order of the president following the violence at
Ketu, Lagos last week. We are living witnesses of our recent past when such
orders were the fare of despots in jackboots. Who were to be shot at sight? How
were they to be identified? Who was to determine who was guilty-on-sight? While
Aso Rock may feel happy that strong-arm tactics can cow innocent citizens we
must count the cost on the national psyche and decide if we are at peace or at
We may not be wrong to say that what we have is not different from a
war situation. How else can the government congratulate itself after levelling
an entire community and mercilessly decimating its population? One report from
the closed community indicates that only two buildings are somewhat still erect
in Odi. Every other structure has been levelled. In fact one soldier was quoted
as saying that there is nothing as Odi anymore. He advised that those people of
Odi who escaped the bombardment should look for some other place to resettle
Odi has become a metaphor in the drama of the struggle of the people
of the Niger Delta to reclaim their humanity. It has become your worst nightmare
dramatised in broad daylight. Odi is sealed off so that we may not see the
charred remains of children, old persons and all those who could not get out of
the way of the federal might. The long neglected people now know what their oil
wealth has been judiciously expended on.
No one must see the photographs
of the mass graves or bodies laden creeks of Odi. No, this must be covered up.
As long as the pictures are not seen, the rest of us can go to sleep. It
happened at Choba, didn_t it? We have read and re-read reports of rape of
peoples wives and daughter by members of the armed forces and the police in
Ogoniland, in Kaiama, in Yenagoa, etc but it never meant anything to anybody. No
investigations, no charges, no response. We hear about cases of young ladies
whose psyche are so scarred by the horrors of rape that they cannot contemplate
going back to Ogoni. Early this year there were reports of married women dragged
off their matrimonial beds and raped by men in uniform.
incident would have been another soft-sale news had someone not been bold enough
to publish those photographs. The response was predictable. The military
defended their colleagues. And one big shot even asked whether the young women
of Choba are more beautiful than the women of Sierra Leone and Liberia! What
nauseating insinuations from a top brass! The Choba pictures brought out the
connoisseurs in our public affairs commentators. They brought out their hand
lenses and pores over the photographs. Some asked how could a woman be raped
with her underwear on? Another one asked, perhaps a woman can be raped with her
underwear on, but could the underwear possibly remain undisturbed?
whole argument over the Choba incident became focused on whether the photographs
were authentic pictures of rape or whether they were pictures from a staged
The question is are our women folks being routinely raped as a
method of subduing the oil-bearing communities? That is the question. It is
probable that the Choba photographs were dramatised. But would our sisters pose
for such photographs if there were nothing to be dramatised?
Why was the
government so quick in denying the dastardly acts of law enforcement agents when
it is public knowledge that this is their stock-in-trade?
Back to Odi.
Embattled Governor Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State is quoted as saying he would
have taken the actions General Obasanjo took against Odi if they were to swap
roles. If that statement is true, we really have problems on our hands. The
governor was elected by the people of Bayelsa State to be their political
leader. He was never elected by Aso Rock. A governor has a moral obligation to
stand up in defence of his/her people. Is the Governor saying he approves of the
mass murder of the Odi people by government troops? Were all the people murdered
the ones who killed the policemen or who resisted the entry of the soldiers into
After the destruction of Odi what will General Obasanjo
do? He has announced that his government will begin development programmes in
Bayelsa State. And he would say that he is truly concerned about the state of
neglect of the oil-bearing communities. He has the NDDC bill to wave at us as
proof of his concern and understanding of the problems. The people have looked
at that bill critically and demanded that it be thrown into the trash bin. It is
a hastily put together document that would create more bottlenecks than it could
solve. Moreover, the issues of the Niger Delta, if we must be truthful to
ourselves, have passed the stage of mere tokenism. It has passed the stage where
the people would rejoice on being given one road or a few electricity
If the government is serious about facing the problems of the
Niger Delta she must be ready for open and frank discussions with the people
under a free atmosphere. The people_s clarion call is that they want to reclaim
their humanity. They are saying that the environment is their life. They are
saying that their water has been totally made unsafe for drinking, their nights
have been banished by gas flares, their lives have been made cheap by rampaging
troops mowing down people at the behest of oil transnational companies and in
the interest of local collaborators. They people are saying, we hate the Land
Use Decree of 1978 contrived by the government of General Obasanjo and declared
sacrosanct in General Abubakar?s Decree 24 of 1999 otherwise called the
Constitution of Nigeria. The people are tired of being treated as a conquered
The odds against Odi are so stacked that the people would have to
search for pieces of their lives in the four winds of the nation. The senate
president has visited the despoiled territory. In a period where a "Truth
Commission" has been set up to investigate human rights abuses of past regimes,
the senate and indeed the entire people of Nigeria must ask the Oputa panel to
commence its work from the assault on Odi.
The government may have
levelled Odi, but to browbeat a nation will be a tougher job to do. Human rights
are not part time business. They are not rights granted at the whims of
governments. This government must be held accountable for all shot-at-sight,
raped-at-sight or for even those shot in the dark (for lack of
ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACTION [ FRIENDS OF THE EARTH
#214 Uselu Lagos Road, Benin City, Nigeria
Tel/Fax + 234 52 600
"All people shall have the right to (a) safe and generally
satisfactory environment favourable to their development". (Article 24, African
Charter of Human and People's Rights)
November 27, 1999
The Federal Republic of Nigeria
"Calling on President Olusegun
Obasanjo to withdraw soldiers from Odi town"
Dear Mr President,
concerned and patriotic citizen of Nigeria from Rivers State now living in the
United States, I wish to express my deep concern about the recent horrific
deployment of federal troops to Odi town in BAYELSA state. Odi has been
reportedly burnt down, innocent men, women and children killed and property
looted. What could provoke such a military over-run of Odi, a community
characterized by deprivation and abject poverty?
I am particularly amazed
at your Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar's explanation of the military havoc
done in the town. He said that your troops are deployed to Odi in order to
maintain law and order. You know yourself, Mr President, that is a lame excuse
but just an opportunity to brutalize the people in the same way every preceeding
military government of Nigeria has done.
Recall the masacre of Umuchem, a
town in Etche local government of Rivers State by the military government of
Gen. Babangida. After plundering the town and killing everybody in sight, from
the traditional village head to old men, young men, women and children, the
brutish force that is the Nigerian military made a bonfire of the human corpses
in order to conceal the evidence of their attrocities. A shocked Vice President
Aikhomu tried to pacify the people when he saw the extent of the beastly act of
the Nigerian military.
Again, the seige of Ogoni land in Rivers State by
the same trigger-happy soldiers and the events that led to the hanging of writer
Ken Saro- Wiwa and his colleagues by government is still fresh in the minds of
all Nigerians and the international community. In that event, a major Okutimu
boasted in a widely publicized television interview the more than 100 ways the
Ogonis were tortured and killed by the Nigerian occupation force.
recently, the University of Port Harcourt town of Choba witnessed similar
atrocites by the "invading force".In that incidence, it is reported that
uniformed soldiers were photographed raping innocent women and girls and looting
Since when does the military maintain law and order, a
primarily police duty? Not even in colonial Nigeria were soldiers deployed to
arrest criminals. In a civil society, the military is never seen in public.We
all therefore know the real motive for the military deployment into the Niger
Delta is not to maintain law and order. The federal might is deployed to
brutalize, intimidate and silence a people while they plunder their resources
unhindered.The bottom line underlining all these brutal show of federal might on
the poor people of the Niger Delta is the crude oil, a resource used unashamedly
to develop all other regions of the country except the region that produces it;
a resource the exploration and exploitation of which has deprived the people of
their farmlands, polluted their rivers and left the people totally impoverished
How many federal roads are in BAYELSA state? How much
federal amenities did the "invading force" see in Odi? Did they see electricity?
Telephone? Water? Hospitals? How many bridges are there to link the various
riverine communities in the state? Compare that to the numerous overhead bridges
and flyovers in Abuja and the northern states where there are no rivers to start
Your government recently awarded contracts for repair and
construction of 46 roads in the country. Not one of these roads is in BAYELSA,
DELTA , AKWA IBOM or RIVERS state. Senator Udo Udoma called attention to this
injustice . Is it because these states do not need good roads?
year including this year parts of BAYELSA, RIVERS and DELTA states are flooded
during the rainy season, Mr President you didn't show any concern but you were
concerned enough to allocate over a billion naira to address flood problems in
Lagos state, part of Yoruba heart land.
The federal government can
plunder and kill the impoverished people of the Niger Delta all it wants, but a
remnant will remain. Your soldiers can't kill everbody. You should listen to the
legitimate demands of the people instead of using the same repressive tactics
previous governments have used. The Lord that put the resources in our land is
greater than any military might and He will fight for us.
To add salt to
injury, you absolved the rampaging soldiers in Choba when you said that you know
that no soldier is capable of committing such atrocities. Are we not talking
about our discredited soldiers, Mr President, recall your own comments about the
same soldiers when you were released from jail by the kind General Abubakar. You
didn't have a good opinion about them then. You said the Nigerian military has
sunk so low, they lack honour, discipline and integrity - where junior officers
humiliate and set up senior officers for the kill. Are some of them not being
tried presently for killing and imprisoning innocent civilians of which you too
were a victim? Where they not involved in the crating of Alhaji Umaru Dikko, a
human being in London? Are they not part of the "unknown soldiers" that stormed
the "Kalakuta Republic" of the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti occasioning the death of
the foremost Nigerian woman political activist Mrs Ransome -Kuti.
writing this letter to you to call to your attention the injustice being
perpetrated by all past military governments and your government on the people
of the Niger Delta. When the country's revenue earnings came from cotton,
groundnuts, cocoa and palm oil, there were no military deployments to the areas
that produced these commodities. In fact, revenue sharing was a non-issue. It
was purely by derivative principle, a formula the federal government now abhors
and loathes. If the agenda of the federal government is not to eliminate the
southern Ijaw minorities while they plunder their resources, I challenge the
federal government to reintroduce the derivative principle for revenue sharing
and lets see whether there will be need for any further troop deployment to the
Niger Delta. This is colonialism coming through the back door. But just as the
first colonial rule was dismantled by the people, this plunder of our land will
also be dismantled too, in God's good time. Coercing a people into submission
with superior force in order to plunder their goods smacks of dictatorship and
has never succeeded in the long run.
We ask for the convening of a
Sovereign National Conference at which the various ethnic nationalities would
determine the basis for their continued association in this oppressive state.
That is the only time we can have a union where peace and justice will prevail.
You can not hide under the facade of a constitution fabricated by an
illegitimate military government, whose myriads of misgovernment you are
presently investigating. You can not therefore reject the call for a sovereign
national conference by pleading for the constitutional provisions for
Mr President, as a woman from the Niger Delta who desires a
Nigerian nation where there is justice and equity, I plead with you to call off
your troops from BAYELSA immediately. Mr President in your wisdom, you did not
give the governor of Lagos state the sort of ultimatum that was dispatched to
the governor of the Ijaw state of BAYELSA, neither did you deploy 50 lorry loads
of soldiers to contain the mayhem perpetriated by your kinsmen of the Oodua
Peoples Congress on the Hausas in Lagos, rather the civil police was asked to
maintain law and order.
I have personally visited Odi 5 years ago. I wept
when I saw the extent of the marginalization of the people. Because there is no
potable water, we used brackish water to take our bath. The women of Odi are so
impoverished and over-burdened, operating in an environment where the basic
ammenities of life like electricity, water and wood fuel for cooking are
My concern is that Odi is heavily populated by women,
children and old men. There are hardly any able-bodied young men because of the
destitution of the town and the lack of employment opportunities. Mr President,
what has happened to these women and children in the face of such heavy
bombardment by your troops? How many defenseless women and children have your
BAYELSA state is not at war with the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, we only seek to be incharge of our resources and destiny as is the norm
in all democratic societies.
Rose E. Obuoforibo
President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Speaker of
the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Executive Council Appointees of the Niger Delta States.
The Governors of the
Niger Delta States.
The Speakers of the Niger Delta States Houses of
The President National Council of Womens
December 4, 1999
of Niger Delta Communities
c/o 147-37 Union Turnpike, Suite 131,
His Excellency Olusegun
Head of State
The Federal Republic of Nigeria
THE KILLING OF OUR PEOPLE
We the undersigned
representatives of the Niger Delta People, resident in North America and Europe,
wish to express our displeasure with the decision of your government to invade
Bayelsa State. While we deplore the alleged killing of police officers in the
line of duty by unknown elements, we feel that the invasion of the state was
neither justified nor necessary to apprehend the criminals involved. We consider
it grossly unfair for a government to order a military expedition to punish a
group of people for the actions of a few individuals.
military action in Bayelsa State is evidence of executive recklessness. We are
bewildered that, in your effort to apprehend a few alleged criminals, you have
ordered the Nigerian Armed Forces to destroy Odi community. Even a young recruit
in a police academy would have informed you that such overwhelming military
force as shown in Odi will not lead to the apprehension of the suspected
criminals. Therefore, the military invasion of Odi suggests to us that this plan
has been in the offing for a while. Odi village was just an unfortunate victim
of your dastardly scheme to resolve the Niger Delta question. Your
partner-in-crime and Defense Minister Gen. T.Y. Danjuma have already informed
the world that this operation is code-named operation HAKURI II. He said it was
"initiated with the mandate of protecting lives and properties - particularly
oil platforms, flow stations, operating rig terminals and pipelines, refineries
and power installations in the Niger Delta." It is obvious where your interest
lies - conquer the Niger Delta people and make it safe for the continued
exploitation of her resources by your clique of Nigerian ruling oligarchy and
multinational oil corporations. In this regard you and your cohorts are very
poor students of history. No where has mightcrushed the determined spirit of a
people. We make haste to tell you that Ijawland, and indeed the Niger Delta will
not be conquered. You and your forces of evil may win the present battle, but it
will be a pyrrhic victory.
Your propaganda machinery has repeatedly been
churning out the falsehood that the military action is necessitated by the need
to maintaining "law and order." As we have said the killing of the policemen is
condemnable, but as indigenes of the Niger Delta, we are appalled that none of
the plethora of human right abuses and violations, extra judicial killings
alleged against the security agencies has elicited your attention, even
investigation. Just before the Odi crisis, soldiers were alleged to have raped
women in Choba town in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State; rather than allow for a full
investigation into the allegation you dismissively absolved the military of the
crime. Do the citizens of the Niger Delta not deserve equal protection under the
law? It was recently reported that the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State in
company of a visiting Chinese delegation, was shot at by the police, the federal
authorities did not deem it fit to condemn the incident. If the Deputy Governor
could be wantonly shot at, what becomes of the lives of the overwhelmingly poor,
marginalized rural dwellers of Bayelsa State and the rest of the Niger Delta?
Animals to be hunted down at will by gun-toting and trigger-happy security
The length and breadth of the Niger Delta, certainly Ijawland,
from the East to the West is under a chain of unprecedented attacks.
Accordingly, the indigenes are embroiled in fending off one form of violence or
the other, since 1993, beginning with the Ogoni crisis. We do believe that no
human being should have to, let alone continue to, live under the permanent fear
of a state-sanctioned violence. It is time you realize Mr. President that
Nigeria is in an era of civil governance and not military despotism. It is the
militarization of civil society under years of brutal military dictatorships
that has brought Nigeria to this current precipice of self-annihilation. Your
recourse to the military option in resolving the deep and critical problems in
the Nigeria society dampen our confidence in the future of the
Sensing the urgency of the situation, therefore, we the
undersigned groups from the Niger-Delta find it especially instructive,
certainly duty bound, to appeal to the Presidency and the Federal Legislature,
to embark upon timely and courageous measures of justice in order to avert the
imminent disaster that looms ahead. We are reminded of the words of our beloved
compatriot Wole Soyinka that "Justice is the first condition for humanity."
Certainly, in the current Nigerian situation, justice to the Niger Delta, is the
first condition for the survival of the Nigerian nation. We are asking you "to
err on the side of reason" as opposed to giving credence to the desire for
emotional satisfaction and wrongful legitimacy of the whims and caprices of the
advocates and practitioners of feudalism, despotism and kleptocracy. We make
bold to suggest to you that the alternative is bound to spell disaster for one
and all. For, any alternative to peaceful and fair-minded resolution would cause
you to preside over the dissolution and disintegration of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria. The days of talking down to the peace-loving indigenes of the Niger
Delta are over. The innocent children who endured the trauma and consequent
pains of the civil war have come of age and we are decidedly against anymore
oppression and state-sanctioned terrorism.
Mr. President, during the
electioneering campaign that saw you elected as president, you claimed that you
have a definite plan for rescuing the Niger Delta from her plight. Furthermore,
in your Independence Day speech, which was broadcast nationwide, you stated:
"the goose that lays the golden egg must be well-catered to." However, on
account of the actions and utterances of this administration, we wonder who or
where that goose might be! Your Niger Delta Development Commission bill has been
in limbo since its submission to the Federal Legislature. It has been widely
reported that your administration has been sitting on, adamantly refusing to
release, the pittance of the three percent (3%) revenue allocation due the
oil-bearing communities as authorized by the erstwhile decree that established
OMPADEC. In a similarly contemptuous fashion, no effort is being made to convene
a Sovereign National Conference, as of yet, despite the fact that there is an
overwhelming demonstrable clamor for it.
Meanwhile, pursuant to the
insincere spirit of your supplemental budget of the 1999 fiscal year, you have
made the following appropriations:
1. the sum of Five and four -tenths
Billion Naira (N5.4b) for the protection of the shoreline and prevention of
erosion at Bar Beach in Lagos State;
2. the sum of Five and one-tenth Billion
Naira (N5.1b) for Federal Capital Territory (FCT) improvement projects;
the sum of Two and two-tenths Billion Naira (N2.2b) for the construction of
federal roads in all of the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, with the glaring
exception of the South-South zone. If the question must be asked, knowing fully
well that some Ninety percent (90%) of Nigeria's revenue derives from the crude
oil and natural gas wealth of the Niger Delta, "Where is the money coming from,
to meeting these fiscal appropriations?" The excuse to item 3 above was that
those parts of the country that are not named in the current list should expect
to be named in subsequent lists. Why must the Niger Delta have to wait, always,
at the convenience of the majority ethnic groups?
Mr. President during
your last visit to the USA, specifically while at Harvard University, it was
reported that you said the following about the Niger Delta, "it is a difficult
terrain; to construct one mile of road there will cost more money than is needed
to construct ten miles in other areas." Mr. President this mantra has been the
lame excuse of the oppressors of the Niger Delta peoples. We will like to note
that in spite of the avowed difficult terrain, it has not hindered your
encouragement of Multinational Corporation to explore and exploit the crude oil
in the region. Indeed, the Niger Delta in spite of its difficult terrain remains
the lowest cost region in the world for the production of crude oil! Your
comment further reveals your hypocrisy and criminal conspiracy to perpetuate the
poverty and under-development in the Niger-Delta.
Once again, we pray
that the Presidency and the Federal Legislature will "find it right to enthrone
true democracy and the principles of justice, fairness and equity." This is all
that the peace-loving indigenes of the Niger-Delta are asking for. As it stands
today, Mr. President, your government have the option to plunge Nigeria into
doomsday or avert the impending catastrophe. We do herein express our fervent
prayers for you that the Amazing Grace and Infinite Wisdom of Almighty God may
shepherd your thoughts, whereby you are able to stand up to the special
interest. May the Almighty God bless the Federal Republic of
Very truly yours,
Bayelsa State Center
Self-Determination Is Next
The News (Lagos)
Lagos - Mr. Bello Orubebe, a Warri-based human rights lawyer,
co-ordinator of the Niger-Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), the militant youth wing
of the Ijaw National Congress (INC). He spoke with OKAFOR OFIEBOR in Port
Harcourt on the aftermath of the military action in Odi, Bayelsa
Q: What is the update on Odi now?
A: The soldiers have
taken over the whole town, and destroyed it completely. There is no house in Odi
that was not destroyed. Up till now, the death toll cannot be ascertained,
because the soldiers have denied us the right to retrieve the corpses of those
killed for proper burial.
Q: So, you cannot say the number of those
A: I cannot. But on the eve of the visit by the Senate President,
Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, to Odi, the last record we had was 375. These are the
corpses recovered. Right inside Odi, those caught by artillery fire, those who
drowned in their attempt to escape the onslaught of the soldiers cannot be
Q: What is your reaction to the incident that necessitated
the military action in Odi by the Federal Government?
A: What incident
are you talking about? Do you know why Obasanjo had to take the action he took?
Defenceless Ijaw people were killed and maimed with reckless abandon in Lagos
and he ignored them.
Obasanjo did not condemn the act and no top Yoruba
man condemned the act. Those who survived had no where to go. At a point, we had
to evacuate our people from Lagos for safety. No assistance was given. Just at
the time when the evacuation was on, the policemen then headed for Odi. Someone
should ask: Is Odi the only town Ijaw people were living? And what for? Whatever
it is worth, the policemen who went to Odi had a hidden agenda. Whatever
happened thereafter did not call for the deployment of troops to exterminate
defenseless Odi people. Did Obasanjo deploy troops to Kano, Sagamu where over 20
policemen were killed in each of the places? He turned Odi into a theatre of
war. Because he may have forgotten his military tactics, he decided to test it
on the Ijaw people. What did Obasanjo do to the OPC? He merely came on air and
said he was giving the OPC a second chance.
During the monthly
presidential chat on NTA, he also called on OPC to get themselves integrated
into the main stream of the society. We know Obasanjo's hidden agenda. The story
has been told. The international community are already aware. The whole Ijaw
people have agreed that any time, anywhere Obasanjo is seen after his tenure, he
will be made to face the law over human rights violation. This is because as a
serving president, he has presidential immunity.
Q: At the time the
youths used Odi as a base for launching attack on defenselessly people and
policemen on duty, what do you expect the government should have done?
Obasanjo is aware of the number of elected representatives from the area. Did he
bother to call them for dialogue so that they can talk to the angry youths? The
Ijaw people equally have leadership if he does not want to talk to some of us
because he feels we are very militant, did he bother to call Ijaw leaders for
dialogue over the issue? Obasanjo is just all out to kill the Ijaw people. The
Ijaw people will, at the appropriate time, seek redress.
Q: We that are
from the Niger-Delta area know that the Ijaw do not turn the other cheek for
another slap. You normally avenge whatever wrong is done to you. Are you
contemplating that as the leader of the Niger-Delta Volunteer Force
A: Abacha did exactly the same thing to the
Obasanjo is now doing it to the Ijaw. At the appropriate time, the
Ijaw Nation will rise up to the occasion. If the genuine call by the Ijaw nation
that we should be allowed to have control over our resources and develop our
area within a well structured federation has now been met with such
high-handedness, it only means that a full blown political action for
self-determination is the only attractive option. We are no longer interested in
the Niger-Delta Development Commission Bill and the so-called palliative package
of piecemeal development he recently announced after being told by the
international community that he blundered by sending soldiers to annihilate his
Q: You just mentioned the NDDC Bill. The Federal Government just
announced some packages of development for the people of Bayelsa just as the
military operation ended. What is you reaction to that?
A: Let us look at
it this way. Obasanjo has just realised that he blundered. And the international
community have told him in clear terms that using military action in a
democratic setting on defenseless civilians is not the best solution for a
people crying for development. To show the paucity of official reasoning, the
Obasanjo government went ahead to announce that the executive was no longer
waiting for the NDDC Bill to be passed by the National Assembly before bringing
development to the area. Why did he not bypass that National Assembly before
now? And by the way, is that the kind of development we are seeking? We are
asking for a constitutionally-guaranteed total development. The development of
the actual Niger-Delta is a constitutional matter. It is not a crime that our
forefathers accepted to be part of Nigeria. If after all these years, the
Nigerian nation has criminally neglected the Ijaw nation despite what it
contributes to the national wealth, is it by force that we must live within the
Federal Republic of Nigeria?
Q: Some people like Prof. Wole Soyinka
condemned the use of the military to settle inter-ethnic clashes, and said the
clashes will continue until Nigerians are allowed to dialogue in a Sovereign
National Conference (SNC) where different ethnic groups will decide the true
Federal structure they want. Do you agree with that?
A: It is not a
question of accepting Prof. Wole Soyinka's view. I have always advocated for a
Sovereign National Conference. If you can recall the interview I granted The
News in 1998, I said they should order Julius Berger into the Niger- Delta and
specifically advocated for the pattern of development for the Niger- Delta. I
said then that a Sovereign National Conference was the only solution. Obasanjo,
as far as we are concerned, is a super-imposition on the people of Nigeria. His
presidency is not a true by-product of the forces of democracy. A Sovereign
National Conference is the only way out of the inter-ethnic crisis in this
Q: Does the ultimatum the Ijaw Revolutionary Council (IRC) gave
the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) up to 31 December 1999 to
work out a blue print for the self-determination of the Ijaw in the Federal
Republic of Nigeria still stand?
A: Yes. The ultimatum stands. We are
very, very sure that INC has to work hard on the blueprint. If you go back to
the "Kaiama Declaration" document, it means total resource control,
self-determination within the federation of Nigeria. But if Obasanjo's action
towards the Ijaw continue like he has done to Odi, a true full-blown
self-determination of the Ijaw people becomes the most attractive option. The
Ijaw are at a cross roads. We have to take our destiny in our own hands. There
are no two ways about it.
Obasanjo did not recourse to the senate before
deploying troops to Odi. That itself is an impeachable offence. I am calling for
his impeachment because that is the basis of democracy.
Q: You talk about
self-determination.Does that mean you will embark on armed struggle to actualise
A: With what Obasanjo has done, the actual nature of the struggle
of Ijaw will be determined by collective will of the people.
date: December 13, 1999
DESPATCHLINE: ODI, BAYELSA
COMPILED BY VOLUNTEERS FROM:
2. Environmental Rights Action
3. Civil Liberties Organisation
(Rivers & Bayelsa)
5. Odi indigenes
THESE GRAFFITI REMAIN THE STRONGEST INDICATION
AS TO WHAT SORT OF PSYCHOLOGY POWERED THE RUTHLESS DESTRUCTION OF ODI IN
NOVEMBER 1999. THEY ARE PRESENTED HERE UNEDITED. THEY ARE EITHER WRITTEN WITH
CHALK, CHARCOAL OR SCRATCHED WITH SOME HARD OBJECT ON THE BROKEN WALLS OF ODI.
* We will kill all Ijaws -- by Soldier
Bayelsa will be silent forever
* Odi people take your time
people take it easy -- saying by soldier
* Don play with soldier
* As from today Odi people, if you see soldier or Mopol or police try an
touch one of them again you will see what go happening by soldier
body can save you
* No more asauna boys at odi again in year 2000
* Odi people, no be our fault na ona government
* Not as you
* No body should play
* Where is the Egbesu
were sent by government to kill and burn your community, take heart
Idiot, why Egbesu no save una!
* Idiot your governor is Egbesu
Move according to the arrow, kill and burn except government property
Odi people you think you can fight government
* If you touch police
again we will finish Bayelsa
* Odi people oya come, and leave in your
community let us see
* Shame to the Ijaw people
* The governor
has given us the right to destroy everything
* Where is the Egbesu power
* We go kill all Ijaw people with our gun
* The end shall never
come until the beginning has come and pass away
* So Odi youths, this is
the end of Egbesu in Odi village
* Anything goes up most come down this
is the end of Egbesu in Odi village by jack of all trade master of non
You bagers of Odi (Egbesu boys) should be very careful with d living God
* FG say no to Odi
* You enter but your sef dead -- not as you
* No power from Odi will ever supercede that of God. Therefore
Egbesu is a man made power.
* You are expected to serve only God the
* Thou will serve God the maker of heaven and not Egbesu
* Thank God for the fall of Odi. Satan is in trouble
wicked shall never go unpunished
* The Bible said what shall an Odi man
gain after loosing his soul, lost the world and his home Odi is a handwork of
God. He created the inhabitant as any other living being.
Therefore you are
magnify praise and glorify his name by serving him only. Egbesu is an idol that
has eyes but cannot see. It has mouth but they can't speak. Why should
serve worship it.
* The God almighty is the destroyer of any
* Hi what is going on? Man, How far? What about Odi, my
senior son also the HQ of the so called Egbesu.
* Well done. Ona well,
* Deep down! Deep, Deep Down!!
* Shame on your juju
* The end shall never come until the beginning has come. Pass
away, so, Odi youth
* The End
* Odi where is your pride?
* Nigeria is Nigeria, Odi is dead.
* Who born Odi? Na Egbesu.
* Trouble is the father of trouble. Soldier is the father of fire. Odi
don't play with fire soldier go burn you -- O !
* You are burnt
* Bloody civilians!
* Next time there will be no trees left.
* Ijaw face, monkey face
* God is great
* Silence. No
noise. Egbesu is dead.
* Hakuri! Hakuri!
* What is this?
* Who burn this house? No be me na you.
* Say No to Egbesu. Yes
* Odi is no more. Gone to the past. Pity
* Learn a
lesson. Visit Odi
* Na you get Oil? Foolish people
* Come take
oil now. Where una Asauna people dey? Dem don run.
* Fire plus fire =
* Where are the policemen?
* Beautiful house, bad
* Odi elders warn your youths. Next time will be worse
Come take the oil now: foolish people
* Booming guns
hungry dey Odi
* This place dey smell bad bad
* Life. Is this
* Attention! No mago mago
* The chicken don finish. What
of the goat?
* Who send you to Odi? Na duty
* We don finish Odi.
We don finish the work
* And it came to pass
* Odi, sorry -- O
* Weep not Odi
* Old woman. Old witch. Old Odi
* Time to
* Soldier man. Strong Man
* We are one.
* You get escort? No. My throat dry -- O
Who is more important? Egbesu or soldier? Soldier
* The wicked shall be
purnished. Odi is wicked
* Dem don run
* Who get power pass,
soldier or Egbesu?
* Time to go. Hungry too much
* Wetin happen
here? Na Egbesu battle. Who win? Na we -- Nigeria
* Who you be?
* God bless
ARMY ''TEACHES A LESSON''
IN BAYELSA STATE
The Nigerian army yesterday said it had "taught a
lesson" to residents of the troubled oil-producing region following the
destruction of a town taken over by the army last month. Many people died and
hundreds of homes were destroyed, most of them torched, in the operation
launched November 20 to take over the town of Odi in Bayelsa State after 12
policemen were killed there in three separate incidents earlier this month.
Captain John Agim, spokesman for the 2nd Amphibious Brigade accused the
residents of failing to act against a criminal gang he said was operating in the
town and responsible for the killing of the policemen and a spate of kidnappings
President Olusegun Obasanjo, under pressure over the
growing lawlessness in the region, last month ordered a crackdown. "The people
in Odi had tolerated these criminals, these attacks on security forces," Agim
told reporters an interview at the brigade headquarters in Port Harcourt,
capital of neighbouring Rivers State. "The intention was just a show of force to
let them know they cannot continue like that. I think that has been achieved.
"No village will want to go through what that village went through. It has been
taught a lesson." Agim said "some" of the destruction of Odi was done by members
of the gang, 14 of whom had been arrested. But "most was done by the army", he
Governor Diepreye Alameyeseigha, in an interview in his office
in the Bayelsa State capital Yenagoa, outside Odi, said the Nigerian government
"could not tolerate criminals" in the town. "They were killing, they were
stealing. No responsible government could tolerate it any longer," he said. "The
boys that have caused the trouble, they are not fighting for anybody. They are
just criminals," he said. But the army operation had been "overkill", he said.
The army was due to pull out of Odi, to be replaced by paramilitary police. "I
have asked the army to pull out. They should pull out. They have done their
worst. Innocent people have been killed" he said. "Odi people never gathered to
take a decision to kill the policemen. The army had "had a mandate to cordon,
search and make arrests."
The operation is just the latest attempt to
quell lawlessness and unrest in the desperately poor oil-producing region of
Nigeria. And according to local community leaders, the reaction could be
violent. Isaac Osoka, a leader of the local ethnic Ijaw Youth Council, said his
organisation preached non-violence, but did not have control over everyone in
the delta. "If the police are killed, they should investigate and arrest people.
Not do what they did. This government will drag this country into an avoidable
and nasty conflict," he warned here. "Violence breeds violence. Now, it is
likely there will be more violence."
Oronto Douglas, an environmental and
human rights activist, said he feared a brutal reaction. "I think people will
not want to take it quietly. They may want to act." The government was running a
"dictatorial version of democracy... you don't need to bombard a town into
rubble to carry out a few arrests." The authorities "should now rebuild the
homes, act quickly if they really want to avert trouble."
Being the Text of a Press Conference by
Leaders of Human Rights and Civil Society Groups Who Visited Odi, Bayelsa State
on Wednesday December 8th 1999.
(This Text was read by Abdul Oroh, Executive Director, Civil Liberties
Organisation, Nigeria. Contact: The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), 1A
Hussey Street, Off Herbert Macaulay Street, Jibowu-Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria; tel:
+234 (1) 860456, 846412; fax: +234 (1) 5840288; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen of the press.
We have called this press conference to ultimate you of the pathetic
situation in Odi and other Communities of the Niger Delta.
Following reports of a military invasion of Odi, a community in Bayelsa State
of Nigeria, the human rights, environmental rights groups and civil society
movements decided to visit Odi to see for ourselves what we have heard and read.
Twenty-nine groups from all parts of Nigeria visited Odi last Wednesday December
8 1999. Odi, a town on the bank of the famous River Nun is populated by the
Ijaws of the Niger Delta. Estimated population before the military invasion is
put at 60,000. The inhabitant of the rural community survive through fishing,
farming, harvesting and processing of oil palm produce, and trading. It is an
oil community, and Shell Petroleum Development Company is present and controls
three oil wells there.
In early November a group of lawless elements who had taken refuge in the
area was reported to have abducted six policemen. It was later reported that
despite the intervention of social movements in the Niger Delta and elsewhere in
the country and Bayelsa State government officials, the law officers were killed
by the hoodlums. This was then followed by President Obasanjo issuing a 14-day
ultimatum to the government of Bayelsa State to produce the miscreants, or he
Obasanjo will proclaim a state of emergency.
Ladies and gentlemen, the ultimatum was yet to expire when General Obasanjo
ordered troops into Odi and the surrounding communities. The East-West road was
cordoned off by the Orashi River at Mbiama and by the River Niger at Patani.
Thereafter, a major military operation commenced, via the use of heavy
artillery, aircraft, grenade launchers, mortar bombs and other sophisticated
weapons. So ruthless, savage and thorough was the operation that it could only
have been intended to achieve a genocidal outcome.
It is difficult at this stage to establish the number of those killed, but we
have received reports of mass burial, mass cremation and the disembowelment and
mass dumping of corpses in River Nun. Two weeks after the operation, the stench
of decomposing bodies dumped into various creeks could still be perceived from
one kilometre from the town. We saw, so many corpses by the roadside as we drove
along. The body of an old man, still clutching firmly to a copy of the Holy
Bible, lay decomposing in a pond behind the Anglican Church, a chilly testimony
to the scorched-earth objective of the invading troops contrary to the
officially declared objective of the mission: to arrest the hoodlums who
allegedly killed some policemen. So complete was the destruction that crops were
razed, yam barns were burnt, garri processing plants were willfully wrecked,
canoes were set ablaze, and every house in the entire community, with the
exception of the First Bank, a Community Health Centre and the Anglican Church,
were burnt down. No aspect of the community's existence was spared. Places of
worship and other sacred places, including sacred forest and groves, churches,
ancestral shrines and burial places, were demolished. We received reports that
the soldiers looted many of the buildings and made away with the valuables
before setting them ablaze. A yet-to-be established number of person, arrested
and taken away by the soldiers to military barracks in Elele, Port Harcourt and
Warri, were yet to be seen two weeks after the operation.
We saw no single livestock, poultry or other domestic animals except a stray
cat. The community's 60,000 inhabitants had tied into the forest or been
arrested or killed. Only a few thoroughly traumatised old women, old men and
children could be seen around, some of them suffering from fractures and other
injuries sustained while trying to escape from advancing soldiers. We also
received information that the soldiers were particularly contemptuous of books.
Several libraries and educational materials were particularly targeted and
The Odi invasion by our investigation was premeditated. It was carefully
planned to annihilate the people in order to make things smooth and easy for the
oil companies. The invasion was called operation Hakuri II by the Minister of
Defence, General T.Y. Danjuma. Briefing the Ministerial Conference on November
25, he explained Operation Hakuri II on Odi and other communities of the Niger
"This Operation Hakuri II was initiated with the mandate of protecting lives
and property - particularly oil platforms flow stations, operating rig terminals
and pipelines refineries and power installation in the Niger Delta."
In other words, it was for oil and oil alone that the soldiers who are today
maintained with oil money from Odi and other communities of the Niger Delta went
to Odi to commit those atrocities.
Some of the graffiti left on the walls of the destroyed buildings by the
soldiers also confirm their genocidal state of mind. A few examples of such
graffiti include the following:
"We will kill all Ijaws
"Bayelsa will be silent forever"
"Worship only God not Egbesu"
" Egbesu, why you run "
"Our power pass Egbesu. Next time even the trees will not be spared.
"This land is for soja, not for ljaws".
We believe the soldiers were on drugs or were fed with divisive propaganda to
motivate their punitive expedition. There is nowhere in the world where
battalions of troops - the airforce, army and navy - are sent to arrest a few
In the light of the foregoing we wish to observe and state as follows:
- That the events in Odi cannot be isolated from the larger crises in the
Niger Delta which have their root in the historical political alienation,
economic deprivation, environmental devastation, physical brutalisation and
psychological traumatisation of the people by an oppressive Nigerian State and
exploitative multinational oil corporations
- That General Obasanjo's handling of the Niger Delta crisis, as exemplified
by his unconstitutional and reckless deployment of troops to Odi, has been
consistent with the oppressive philosophy of governance of erstwhile military
dictators which conceives of force as the basic strategy for resolving social
and political problems. We would have expected that the coming into power of a
civilian government would have ushered in a different approach to the crisis,
one that would emphasise dialogue and popular participation in the quest for a
just and lasting solution. Odi has cast a big question mark on the ability of
the Obasanjo government to resolve the nation's social problems in a democratic
- The military action in Odi not only violated sections of the 1999
Constitution, it was inconsistent with the Universal Declaration of Human
- The actions of the soldiers in Odi amounted to a genocide and were clearly
inconsistent with Article 5 of United Nations Code of Conduct for Law
Flowing from the above observations, we make the following calls and demands:
- An independent Judicial Commission of Enquiry should be conducted into the
miIitary action Odi with a view to determining the circumstances surrounding the
President's unconstitutional action, investigating the atrocities committed by
soldiers and punishing the perpetrators.
- A complete reconstruction of Odi should be embarked upon urgently by the
Federal Government and its inhabitants resettled, rehabilitated and compensated
- We call for the immediate withdrawal of all troops from the Niger Delta in
order to end the devastation, killing, looting, raping, maiming, and other forms
of inhumanity for which the troops have become notorious
- We support the legitimate struggles of the peoples of the Niger Delta for
self- determination, resource control, environmental justice, cultural
self-expression and genuine participation in determining the conditions under
which oil companies operate in the area. We therefore endorse the Kaiama
Declaration, Ogoni Bill of Rights, lkwerre Rescue Charter, Aklaka Declaration
for the Egi, the Urhobo Economic Summit Resolution, Oron Bill of Rights and
other demands of peoples' organisations in the Niger Delta.
- We call on the Obasanjo government to commence forthwith a transparent
process of multi- lateral dialogue that would involve the government, the oil
companies and freely chosen leaders of the Niger Delta peoples to work out the
modalities for meeting the just demands of the people.
- We call on the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity to
institute an International War Crime Tribunal to try and punish all those who in
one way or the other perpetrated the atrocity in Odi.
For and on behalf of the underlisted organisations.
Civil Liberties Organisation, Environmental Rights Action, Ijaw Youths
Council, Niger Delta Women for Justice, Ijaw Council for Human Rights, Women in
Nigeria (WIN), Ikwerre Solidarity Congress, Journalists for Democratic Rights
(JODER), Pan African Youth Movement (PAYM), Nigerian Institute of Human Rights
(NIHR), International Center for Development & Environmental Planning
(ICDEP), Community Rights Initiative, National Association of Nigerian Students
(NANS), Constitutional Rights Project (CRP), Campaign for Democracy for Human
Rights (CDHR), Pan Ibo Federation, Huri-Laws, Agape (Birth Rights), Bayelsa
State Youth Development Foundation (BSYDF), Oduduwa Liberation Movement,
Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian law (IHRHL), United Community Action
Network, Public Inhouse Lawyers link, Media for Ethnic Equality.